HELENA — There were 320 Montanans who died from COVID-19 related complications in the month of November according to data compiled by MTN.
A total of 717 COIVD-19 related deaths have been reported in Montana as of 12:00 a.m. on Dec. 1.
The first COVID-19 death in Montana was reported on March 26 in Lincoln County. At the time there were 90 COVID cases in the state. Montana began to see exponential growth in cases and deaths towards the end of the summer.
On July 1 the state had seen 22 deaths with 1,016 total COVID cases. By August the number of deaths had nearly tripled to 61 and the number of confirmed cases had quadrupled to 4,081.
A total of 106 deaths and 7,509 total cases were reported Sep. 1. By the beginning of October 181 deaths were reported with total cases reaching 13,500.
A month later on Nov. 1, 397 COVID related deaths were reported with 33,062 confirmed in Montana.
Officials in Montana have been following CDC guidelines for attributing a death to COVID-19. The most common reason for COVID being listed as a contributing factor to death is life threatening conditions such as pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome resulting from the COVID infection.
According to guidelines if the death was not directly tied to the COVID-19 infection, such as a traffic fatality, the death should not be attributed to COVID.
Preliminary data from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) show that the majority of COVID deaths are happening in individuals over the age of 50 years old.
Around 14.7% for COVID-19 deaths were attributed to individuals ages 50-64. 23.4% happening in individuals 64-74 years old. 27.8% were attributed to people ages 75-84, and 29.4% were in ages over 85 years old. 4.8% of COVID-19 deaths in Montana were reported in individuals 30-49 years old.
One in six Montanans is over the age of 65.
DPHHS warns that at this rate COVID will be at least the fourth leading cause of death in the state for 2020. Right now the mortality rate of a confirmed COVID cases in Montana is around 1.1%.
However, 1.1% of the population of Montana is more than 11,000 people; greater than the populations of Havre or Anaconda.
According to data from the Montana Department of Transportation, there have been 186 traffic fatalities on Montana roads in 2020 so far.
Preliminary data from DPHHS indicates 231 Montanans have died by suicide from Jan. 1 to Oct. 10 in 2020. Montana averaged 280 suicide deaths a year over the last five years.
Montana’s hospitals have been feeling the strain of COVID for months, with around 1 in 20 individuals confirmed to have the virus needing some form of hospitalization.
Increased spread in the community have also led to more hospital support staff, nurses and doctors contracting the virus or needing to quarantine due to exposure.
A big concern by many hospitals in the state is there will be another spike of COVID cases in the weeks following Thanksgiving, and those medical facilities won’t have enough resources to meet the increased need from patients.
Wear a mask, follow social distancing and limit gatherings to only those that live in your household are the only tools the state has right now to combat COVID-19.
A vaccine is still months away from being distributed to the general population, and Governor Bullock has said he would not lock down the state again without financial support from the federal level.